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APHIS Celebrates 50 Years of Protecting American Agriculture

photo of two farmers holding an American flag in a field


The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is celebrating a major milestone – 50 years of serving the public as a Federal agency. USDA created APHIS on April 2, 1972 to consolidate animal health, plant health, and inspection duties under one roof. The new agency focused on protecting American agriculture and natural resources, along with ensuring the humane care of certain animals. While both APHIS and the world have changed a lot over the past 50 years, the agency’s key mission remains the same today.

“The keys to APHIS’ long-term success are our dedicated, skilled employees and the strong partnerships we develop with our many stakeholders,” said APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea. “It takes many hands working together to protect the health of our nation’s animals, plants and natural resources.”

Some of APHIS’ key accomplishments over the past 50 years include:

  • Eradicating plant pests like European grapevine moth and plum pox from the country, while reducing the impact of others plant diseases, including boll weevil and Mediterranean and Mexican fruit flies;
  • Eradicating serious animal diseases, including highly pathogenic avian influenza, virulent Newcastle disease, and pseudorabies, from the country’s herds and flocks, while reducing the prevalence of other animal diseases like bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis;
  • Improving care for laboratory animals, exhibited animals and other animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act;
  • Ensuring genetically engineered plants do not pose a risk to plant health, while keeping up with the ever-changing technology in this field;
  • Reducing the impact of wildlife damage on agriculture and natural resources, and developing new tools and techniques for non-lethal wildlife management; and
  • Ensuring safe trade of agriculture commodities across the globe

Earlier today, APHIS launched a new page on its website to share a series of visual timelines walking through the agency’s history and important milestones. There’s also a video from Administrator Shea. In the coming weeks, APHIS will share history highlights on its social media accounts.

“It’s exciting to be celebrating 50 years as an agency. And I’m even more excited to look to our future,” said Administrator Shea. “APHIS’ core work will remain, but we know we will continue to face new and different challenges—from the impacts of climate change to new horizons in One Health. Our role will evolve as science and agriculture evolve. And I know that whatever the next 50 years brings for APHIS, our employees will remain committed to protecting the health and vitality of American agriculture.”

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

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